Turkey accumulating differences with NATO
By Abir Bassam* |
Starting in March 2015, Russia decided to take military action against the war on Syria. Ironically, as Syria began retrieving its power over the occupied areas by ISIS and al-Nusra, the Turkish political situation was getting more and more complicated every day.
Today it is entangled in a dispute with its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO]. According to media reports after imposing military sanctions on Turkey, the American Congress started taking procedures to exclude Turkey from NATO.
Consistently, Tulsi Gabbard, the representative for Hawaii’s congressional district, raised the issue of sanctions on Turkey for discussion on July 17, after a series of Turkish decisions in which America found a major violation of its interests, especially in the deal to buy Russian-made S400 missiles.
As the “Arab Defense” website’s political analysis read, her request included demands to exclude Turkey from NATO by next year. Immediately, on October 20, Canada responded by discontinuing supplying Turkey with military hardware.
The sanctions on Turkey came at a time in which the U.S. declared about the intelligent members’ visits to Syria as an attempt to reveal the fate of the American journalist, Austin Tice, who disappeared in Eastern Ghouta. However, Syria refused to cooperate with the Americans unless they show serious practical steps to eliminate their occupation of the East and Northern- East of the country. Oddly, the visit comes at a time the U.S. is preparing to end its military presence in Iraq, which may imply that the U.S. is re-arranging its cards in the region.
It seems that the missile system deal that was offered by Russian President Vladimir Putin turned out to be a trap that Turkey had fallen into. It jeopardized its relation with the United States. Stupidly, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stepped into the game. He was trying to manipulate the contradicting relations between Russia and the U.S. It seems that Erdogan has constantly misinterpreted reading the U.S.’s priorities after dismantling the Soviet Union [CCCP]. Because Turkey is no longer located on the CCCP borders, its geographical position has lost its importance after 1989. Hence, the U.S. priorities are former Eastern European states that border Russia. And Turkey has become a liability.
It is also possible that Erdogan was deluded by the Americans. He might have been given the idea that his participation in the war on Syria and toppling Assad’s government might offer him the chance to bring back Turkey into leading the Muslim and the Arab world again. However, he failed to deliver. Totaling that, the Turkish interference in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea was seen as a sign of threat to the European interests, especially after the provocations near Greece’s coastal shores.
The Turkish meddling in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has also raised speculation about the Turkish intentions by both Europe and its regional allies Russia and Iran. In its attempt to support Azerbaijan, Turkey brought in the terrorists fighting under its banner from Libya and Syria to fight the Armenians. This put the regional allies, who went to Syria to fight the terrorists, at the risk of having them near their borders.
Accordingly, Turkey swamped Europe with the Syrian refugees. It opened its borders and allowed Syrians, amongst many others, to start uncontrolled immigration towards Europe. In addition, both the U.S. and the Europeans were uncomfortable with the war that Turkey initiated against the Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] in order to prevent establishing a Kurdish state in the Syrian territories despite the Western will.
In this context, it is important to understand the basic American plan to involve Turkey in its war on the region. It was recommended by the American “intellectual” Samuel Huntington in his book “The Clash of Civilizations: the New World Order. In 1996, he wrote advocating for creating a New Middle East (West Asia) under the Turkish leadership. In doing so, Washington should support the rise of the second Ottoman state. According to Omar Ihab on marsad.ecsstudies.com, Barak Obama embraced the idea as long as it lied within the American and Western interests.
The idea was first established by Bernard Lewis, who was the first to use the term “Second Ottoman State” in 1953. Lewis also called for re-establishing the State of Greater Kurdistan between the regions inhabited by the Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. According to Ihab, those ideas were echoed by the Syrian Kurdish separatists and the Turks when the West made them the Republic of “Rojava” in northeastern Syria in 2016 during the Arab “Spring”.
Erdogan’s head must have been filled with fantasies about the rise of “Neo Ottomanism” as a concept. However, the greatest disappointment was when Turkey’s membership in the European Union [EU] was denied or constantly postponed.
A significant margin was given to Erdogan to play within, which accorded with Huntington’s recommendations. However, the man did not accurately weigh his options. He fell into the Russian temptations. He committed the biggest mistake of all, especially after he raised a high level of differences with Europe and by a defect with the U.S. over his interference in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and his refusal to stand on the fence in the war, his interference in Libya, and finally the escalation with Greece and his insistence to dig in the eastern Mediterranean.
U.S.-Turkish relations began to nosedive after the failed coup attempt that was supported by the Americans in 2016. This was followed by the U.S. vacillating and supportive position to Mohammed bin Salman in assassinating Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018. Finally, the U.S. support to European Union against Turkey in the conflict with Greece has raised questions about Turkey’s fate in NATO.
By digging for oil and gas in the East Mediterranean, Erdogan has been playing his final card. But, he hit a nerve. Both the Americans and their allies in Europe and “Israel” would not allow Turkey to be competitive in the region. Even the Russians have their own preservations and opposition to the Turkish plan. Consequently, Turkey is now standing alone, unable to benefit from its allies in NATO. The political and economic returnees seem to be sized along with the gains of Turkey’s wars next to NATO in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Add to that the retreat of its relations with Iran and Russia.
The S400 missile deal from Russia was the final straw that added to the disagreements and lack of confidence between Turkey and NATO members. It led to the F35 aircraft deal’s failure in the U.S. Senate, whose members voted against it, both the Republican and the Democrats.
In March last year, a study was published by carnegie-mec.org. Carnegie warned that the completion of the S400 missile defense system would inevitably lead to expelling Turkey from NATO. Deutsche Welle also published multiple points of disagreement with Ankara, which is related to its cooperation policy with the Russian military in Turkey, and consequently strengthening its position in Syria and undermining the building of a Kurdish state through its military operation “Peace Fountain.”
The site published a poll result, which revealed that 58% of Germans voted for excluding Turkey from NATO, while only 18% opposed it.
There are two dilemmas concerning the Turkish departure from NATO; the first is related to the American Military Bases and American weapon factories. The second is related to the size of the NATO military forces since Turkey is considered to be the second military power in the military bloc. However, for the Americans, the issue is related to Turkish behavior and role, which became overdue and getting out of control.
These facts now impose the need to return to the basic American plan for the West Asia region, which is the re-division. This re-division might be applied to Turkey to control its behavior in the future. Accordingly, Turkey must be divided into two states, Eastern Islamic Asian Turkey and European Turkey. This arrangement has become an urgent need to protect Europe from the neo-Ottoman infringements and Europe’s dilemma bypassing the refugees into its lands.
*Abir Bassam is a Lebanese writer and researcher.